Mediterranean-Style Roasted Chicken

If you are the lazy or busy sort, I’ve got the perfect, let’s impress the in-laws recipe for you: Roasted Chicken with herbs and Potatoes. Fairly typical recipe from Mediterranean countries like Italy or Greece, it is so easy you can make it up as you go along.

With this year’s herbs planted on my balcony, it was time for me to rid my shelf of last year’s dried oregano, thyme, and rosemary. What better way to get rid of them than Roasted Chicken? I bought a 400g packet of chicken legs and got to work, although to be quite honest, any kind of chicken part will do.

Peel four medium-sized potatoes, slice them into quarters. rub salt, pepper, and herbs onto the skin and into the nooks and crannies of the chicken. Place everything into an 8 inch by 12 inch pan. Crack some salt and pepper over the potatoes with a mill  Drizzle over 5 tablespoons of cooking olive oil on everything. Bake in a pre-heated oven in 200° C for 20 minutes, until the chicken and the edges of the potatoes turn brown. Enjoy the low-fat crispiness of the chicken skin on top, and the savory oil sauce that emerges from the bottom.

Easy Pasta and Pear Salad

Living in a household where half of the one-and-a-half would have noodles with tomato sauce every day if he had his way means that I have to deal with a lot of leftover pasta. Thankfully, unlike rice and potatoes, you don’t need to re-heat or cook pasta to make it palatable.

I have always had good results using Nigella Lawson’s Mortadella Pasta Salad, but I didn’t have any Mortadella. Scrounging up stuff in the kitchen, I was able to whip up something just as good based on Nigella’s recipe, using leftovers and the Italian parsley growing on my balcony.

For a single serving, use 150 g cold, leftover fusilli pasta.

The dressing: 2 Tablespoons good-quality extra-virgin olive oil for salads, 1/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt or Maddon salt (if using sea salt or table salt, add more. I agree now that sea salt just isn’t as salty),  1/2 teaspoon of Dijon mustard (I confess, however, that I always have Gaumenfreude’s wild garlic infused mustard in stock. I swear by their stuff. Buy local!), a spritz of lemon.

To fill your pasta,  cut a slice of ham into squares, half a pear, diced into chunks, 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese flakes (easily done with a potato peeler), 1/2 Tablespoon finely chopped parsley, either the curly or flat Italian variety, and pepper to taste.

Mix the ingredients of the dressing in a bowl, and scramble it with a fork. Add the noodles and all of the ingredients, then toss. Adjust the taste with salt and pepper according to your liking.

It is the perfect light lunch. The saltiness of the salad is balanced well by the sweetness of the pear, and rounded by the olive oil. Great for potluck parties. Guten Appetit!

Chicken Nuggets

This low-calorie Chicken Nugget recipe is a favorite stand-by for chicken breast recipes. It is quick and easy to do, perfect for a quick dinner. I eat this UFC banana ketchup and rice :-).

The English translation of this recipe is: 

A pack (1 pound or 500 g) chicken breast, chopped into bite-sized pieces

60 ml Buttermilk, or 60 ml milk thickened with a teaspoon of vinegar

Half a cup of crumbled cornflakes. I take a thick, food-grade ziploc plastic bag, fill it with cornflakes and beat the ever-loving shit out of it with a rolling pin.

1 and a half tablespoons of flour

Salt and pepper

A few drops of Tabasco sauce or a knifetip Sambal Olek

Some olive oil.

Pre-heat oven to 200°C. Wash the chicken, pat dry and cut into pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Mix the milk with the tabasco in a bowl. In a deep dish, mix the flour, cornflake crumbs, and more salt and pepper. Dip the chicken pieces in the milk mixture, then in the cornflakes mixture

Lay the chicken pieces on a lightly-greased baking sheet, about an inch apart. Place a drop of olive oil on each nugget and bake each side for 15 minutes each.

The chicken pieces retain their juices after baking, and are so flavorful, I haven’t used another chicken nugget recipe since finding this one a few years ago!

Newsflash: Bitter Aftertaste in Extra Virgin Olive Oil is Good For You

I got this bottle of olive oil in Italy. I got it at an Aldi rip-off across the street from my Italian apartment. A tag at its neck, since discarded, proudly proclaimed that it was unfiltered, and is from this year’s harvest.

I was skeptical. After all, Aldi rip-offs are not known for selling good quality products, especially if the fresh goods section was anything to go by. It was also very cheap. a little under 5 € (4.39) for the bottle.

I opened the bottle when I got back to Germany, and felt that my suspicions were confirmed after tasting a teaspoonful of oil. It had a bitter, then peppery aftertaste a few seconds after swallowing upon reaching the back of my mouth. This taste and sensation has never come up in my years of olive oil buying. I am very particular about olive oils, so it felt like a disappointment. It felt like a rip-off. I got what I paid for.

This bothered me enough to do some research. it turns out that this sensation and taste is completely normal!

According to this website:

There are many attributes of olive oil that indicate poor quality like being rancid, fusty, musty or winey; but having a bitter sensation on the tongue or a back of the throat sting, is not one of them. In fact, it is one of the best indications of an extra virgin olive oil’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory value. It is the flavenoid polyphenols in olive oil that contribute to a bitter taste and resistance to oxidation. These polyphenols are strong antioxidants and have been shown to provide a host of beneficial effects from healing sunburn to lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, and risk of coronary disease.

 

The website also cites a Science Daily article stating that the anti-inflammatiory properties of extra virgin olive oil is at par with ibuprofen. It also says that this bitter aftertaste is a mark of high-quality oil!

Grudgingly, I may have to add this brand to “the list.” I keep a list of good olive oils that I have bought through the years. But that is another blog entry.